Join Morris Arts and Art in the Atrium at the free public opening of New Jersey’s largest exhibition of African-American art, curated and assembled by Art in the Atrium. The free opening reception on Friday, January 26 from 6:30-9:00pm at the Atrium Gallery (floors 2-5 of the Morris County Administration & Records Building, 10 Court Street, Morristown), includes music, food and an opportunity to meet the artists. The public opening will include free refreshments (in the 4th floor cafeteria).
Running through March 21, 2018, the exhibit is entitled Lift Every Voice and highlights the work of Charleston, SC native artist Leroy Campbell, as well as works by Plainfield artist Alonzo Adams, and works by 27 outstanding locally and internationally known African American artists including
Bisa Butler, Janet Taylor Pickett, Rosalind Nzinga Nichol, Lavett Ballard, Larry Poncho Brown, Carol Bailey, Anthony Gartmond, Ellaree Pray, Les Floyd, Wannetta Phillips, Onnie Strother, Terells Thomas, Andrew Nichols, B. Curtis Grayson, Jackie Collier, Elaine McCrary, Erik J. Montgomery, Bryan Collier, Deb Willis, Jo-El Lopez, Stephen Ellis, Jennifer Mack, Kara Rice, Ron EA Powell and Zaya Grauer.
Leroy Campbell’s art speaks of the contributions to humanity through the African American perspective. More than just art, each piece serves as Campbell’s tithe, as he uses his gifts and talents to teach others about the richness of the Gullah/ Geechee heritage and the beauty of his people.
Leroy Campbell describes humanity like a garden. In the 1300s, Native Americans invented a system of gardening called “Three Sisters,” which involved strategically planting corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provides support and structure for the beans to grow. While the beans pull nitrogen from the air, returning it to the soil and enriching all the plants. The squash, planted at the base, spreads its large leaves, which offer shade and protection, keeping the soil moist and cool. When each of the plants is whole, thriving and healthy, it is able to reach its full potential and contribute to the garden. If one of the plants becomes sick, it affects the balance of the garden.
Master gardener, painter, storyteller, and lover of souls, Leroy Campbell paints a beautiful hope for humanity through his art and through his words. In telling the stories he knows best, he is offering the wisdom and lessons of the elders as a gift to us all. As part of the human experience, we are all searching for our place in the garden, our purpose, our connection, our significance in this world. Those stories are the most powerful gifts in the universe as they provide a sense of self and a foundation of wisdom based on patience, love, and discernment. Campbell’s vision is of a healthy garden, where each is whole, liberated and validated, where people are free to love who they are and in turn nurture others around them.
Leroy Campbell’s paintings, infused with history, tie the past to the present in the practice of sankofa, the understanding that you can’t more forward until you receive the lessons of the past. The vulnerability of his art, his soul, his ability to tell a story through the use of acrylic, paper, tapestries, and organic materials, creates an opportunity for conversation, for something real, for the human connection that we are all desperately seeking.
Art in the Atrium’s annual exhibition is the largest of its kind in the state. “It really helps to expand people’s idea of what African-American art can be,’’ says Craig. “We have works in all mediums and genres. It’s not just figurative paintings with a mask in them.’’ The non-profit organization, Art in the Atrium, began in 1992 after Victoria Craig’s husband, attorney Charles Craig, noticed that no art works exhibited in the Morristown administration building were by African-American artists. Dedicated to exhibiting works by emerging and established black artists, Art in the Atrium is a nonprofit volunteer organization whose annual exhibit at the Atrium Gallery is now the largest of its kind in New Jersey, growing from a single floor to currently occupying four full floors of the County Administration & Records Building. Art in the Atrium has also expanded to include seminars, jazz brunches, collectors’ workshops and cosponsored artist residencies in the Morris School District, benefitting 200 to 500 students each year. It also awards an annual scholarship to a student artist, whose work is often exhibited in the show. For more information, visit www.artintheatrium.org.
The exhibition is made possible in part by funds from Morris Arts through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.